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Derek Vreeland

This paper was written by Derek Vreeland.

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Derek Vreeland holds an M.Div degree from Oral Roberts University. He is the assistant pastor of Cornerstone Church in Americus, Georgia.


Original paper. Included with the author's permission. This paper has since been modified and published in article form in Refleks 1-2 (2002).

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Articles > Charismatic Theology > Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology

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Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology:

A Defense, Analysis and Refinement of the Theology of the Word of Faith Movement

Theology Interest Group

Derek E. Vreeland, Cornerstone Church (Americus, Georgia)

Presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

 

            “O, when it comes to faith, what a living, creative, active, powerful thing

it is.  It cannot do other than good at all times.  It never waits to ask whether

there is some good work to do…” 

         Martin Luther, Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans [1]

 

The Debate over Word of Faith Theology

The independent charismatic movement has struggled to form an ecclesiastic identity amid its mosaic of churches, ministries, theological systems, and points of biblical emphasis.  It surged onto the Pentecostal landscape in the fury of post World War II healing revivalism under the leadership of spiritual enthusiasts who were dissatisfied with established denominational Pentecostalism.  They received the loose classification “independent charismatics” to distinguish them from the denominational charismatics or neo-Pentecostals of the late 20th century charismatic renewal. Their self-imposed isolation from traditional denominational structures created an opportunity for theological innovations.  This freedom has also allowed an array of voices to rise up and speak to the issue of theology often with less than accurate methodologies and piece meal constructs that in part have hindered the work of the Holy Spirit. No other movement has been more pervasive in the independent charismatic tradition than the word of faith movement[2] and none other has been as persuasive.

 

Researchers and Pentecostal historians have difficulty finding any independent charismatic church or ministry that has not been exposed to the word of faith movement to some degree.  Tenants of word of faith theology, such as positive confession and prosperity, have become the caricatures of the entire independent charismatic tradition. The spread of the word of faith movement over the last 25 years has not been without opposition. Critics have spoken out from reformed, evangelical, classic Pentecostal backgrounds and from within the independent charismatic tradition itself. Some critics decry the movement as cultic and the theology as heresy.[3]  Much to the detriment of the word of faith movement, this has been a rather one-sided debate.  Many of the predominate word of faith proponents choose not to respond to the critics in an attempt to heed the Pauline warning to not “quarrel about words.”[4]  While some substantial books have been published in response to some of the critical extremes[5], a thorough reconstruction of word of faith theology has not been attempted.  A reconstruction of word of faith theology requires redeeming the word of faith movement from the “heresy junk pile” that it has been heaped on by answering the question, “Do the theological weaknesses within word of faith doctrines constitute an anathemaic condemnation or is there sufficient orthodoxy in word of faith theology to apply correction?”  This will be a partial response to D. R. McConnell and other word of faith critics.   The remaining process of reconstruction includes an explanation of four distinctives of word of faith theology - the nature of faith, positive confession, healing and prosperity. The final step to reconstruction will be to refine those tenants by answering the question, “Can each word of faith distinctive be reconstructed on a solid theological foundation and still retain its word of faith identity?”

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | Footnotes

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